Monday, May 10, 2010

Julie's Birthday Party

The past weekend was a birding marathon... North American Migration Counts in two counties plus Black Oystercatcher surveys at four sites. We have two more days of surveys this week, but today we took off because the weather on the coast, where today's survey was supposed to be, was foggy and rainy. Instead, I went to friend Julie's 70th birthday party and going away lunch. Julie is moving across the mountains. All of us members of the Old People's Riding Club willl miss her. She's been the treasurer of our club and a good friend to all of us.

Her birthday lunch is not one she'll soon forget. I certainly won't.

We ate at McGrath's Fish House in Salem. I'm pretty sure they don't allow dogs in the restaurant. But the organizer of this do, Darlene, has a little dog, a very strange dog with a head way too big for its body, that she takes everywhere with her. She had him stuffed into a cloth zippered bag with just his nose sticking out. I didn't know about the dog when I sat across the table from her. But very soon the woman on my right, Susan, turned to me and asked, "Did you drop something?" I looked under the table... the something that my table neighbor felt "dropping" was the dog, who had left his zippered pouch and was exploring legs. Darlene dove under the table and stuffed her pet back into the bag.

All was peaceful until Darlene stood to go visit with friends at the far end of the long table. She asked the woman on my left, Karen, to put the bagged dog between us on our bench seat so he wouldn't escape the bag again when she left. Karen apparently knows this dog. However, the dog didn't appear to remember her. He growled. At her. At me. I tried very hard not to move because when I did, he made a little snap with his teeth in my direction. I hoped Darlene would come back very soon. But she did not. Thankfully, the dog fell asleep.

Darlene did come back when the food was served but did not offer to retrieve her dog, although he looked up when he heard her voice, then turned to me and growled. I held still. In a few minutes, he fell asleep again. I was glad he seemed to be a very sleepy animal because whenever he was awake, he was growling at me. I told Karen if the waiter looked our way, act like her stomach was growling. I couldn't because I was afraid to move.

We ate our lunches and then someone started us singing Happy Birthday to Julie. That woke the dog who leaped up and started growling in earnest, mostly at me. Everyone else seemed to think this hilariously funny. But they were not sitting next to the dog. I was very glad when Darlene stuffed him back into his bag and under her seat.

We had not counted on the restaurant waiters, who shortly arrived with a cake and a ludicrous fish hat which they plunked on Julie's head and started us all singing Happy Birthday again. The dog under the table growled with every note. Darlene jumped up to plop a horse figurine she'd brought onto the cake. She had the bagged dog on her arm. The restaurant staff said nothing. Perhaps they thought it was a stuffed dog. I could only wish.

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